While the roadmap says 17 May for the reopening of pubs and restaurants, Sacha Lord is hoping to have them open as soon as possible, with his legal challenge being expedited through court despite Matt Hancock’s “stalling tactics”.
The legal battle to allow all pubs and restaurants to reopen sooner than stipulated by the current roadmap will be expedited, the High Court has agreed.
Greater Manchester night time economy adviser Sacha Lord has argued that there is no scientific evidence or justification for indoor hospitality spaces to remain closed for so much longer than indoor retail spaces. Health secretary Matt Hancock has said that there is ‘no proper basis for expedition’, stating that the Department of Health and Social Care ‘opposes the case’ and asking the court “to refuse the Claimants’ request for expedition and to allow the claim to proceed on the normal timetable”.
Lord accused Hancock of “stalling”.
The High Court has now agreed to expedite the case, with Mrs Justice Eady stating that “there is a need to expedite consideration of this matter if the challenge is not to be rendered academic by passage of time”.
Lord’s legal challenge, which he is working on with Punch Taverns founder and entrepreneur Hugh Osmond, had initially hoped to see indoor spaces open at the same time as beer gardens on April 12, but now the aim is to have them reopened as soon as possible. Under the current roadmap, indoor pubs and restaurants can’t welcome back customers until May 17 at the earliest. Meanwhile, Lord’s case will progress and reach its next phase as soon as April 19.
“With non-essential retail opening on Monday, there is clearly a firm basis for the case to be heard immediately,” he said. “The Government has continuously failed to introduce any new evidence as to why indoor hospitality cannot open on 12 April alongside non-essential retail, or any justification for their prioritisation of retail over hospitality.”